Putting kinetic tech through its paces


Written by Siobhan Morrin
24 Monday 24th January 2011
Kinetic energy is all the rage right now - with Microsoft's Kinect and Playstation's PS Wii (sorry, 3) Motion, the big players are keen to prove that gaming no longer equals ‘gamer’.
Taking the motion sensing quite literally one step further, is the Nintendo 3DS. The handheld contains a pedometer (detecting footsteps, not sexual predators - sorry Daily Mail mums!) that harnesses the kinetic energy of the user’s movements to earn coins. These can then actually be spent, potentially on game upgrades or unlocks.
So far, it has been the no-glasses 3D effect that has garnered most attention, with concerns about the affect on childrens’ eyesight raised by Nintendo themselves. The pedometer aspect, however, could prove to be a redeeming feature, particularly given the popularity of the earlier Pokewalker.
Of course, being the big gaming company they are, Nintendo have come up with a profitable and potentially popular use for the technology. What other products exist though? Is anyone else making kinetic energy do more? We take a look at the good, the not so good, and the downright odd inventions using kinetic energy.
This quite ingenious little device claims to turn your energy into electrical energy, useful for charging up your phone, iPod, etc. The movement you create when walking/cycling/mountain climbing is captured and stored by the peg, and can then be used for recharging on the go through a plethora of compatible cables for various devices. Certainly a bit pricey at $149.99, the technology looks exciting at least, so it’s definitely one for the future.
It seems obvious at first - wind turbines can produce electricity on a large(ish) scale, so why not on a small one? As small as your back patio? The idea is nice, having your own wind-powered lights; however, you do need them to be in a place that catches the wind- aka outdoors. So they’re only of some use if you have a garden, balcony or patio. And it’s a bit breezy.

A ‘people-powered’ bed, what’s this? Apparently, your 'movements' in the bed create the energy to run LED reading lights, as well as a water supply for the er, plants. If you’re lacking in energy of the electrical kind, you can generate more using the ‘straps and pulleys’ at the side. Or they could be for the times you’re feeling more energetic. If the designer's site name (Sexin Design) is anything to go by, this is probably the intention.

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